At Full Gallop
Big money acquisitions always make the news, especially when the book being bought checks all the right boxes: literary fiction? Young author? Debut? An elevator-pitch hook? For 31-year-old Anton DiSclafani’s Depression-era debut, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, about a naughty young girl exiled to an equestrian boarding school for Southern debutantes, check every box. The book debuts on our Hardcover Fiction list in its first week at #20. As often happens when a debut sells in a heated auction, the buzz has been building since the start, helped by pre-pub blurbs (Lauren Groff called it “sexy, smart, and vividly drawn”) and, as publication grew nearer, by outlets like PW, which profiled DiSclafani, highlighted her in our “First Fiction” feature, and chose the novel as one of our “Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2013.” In addition to loads of traditional media coverage, DiSclafani has enjoyed the embrace of horse media outlets such as Dappled Gray, an equestrian style guide, and the Chronicle of the Horse, a publication about the equestrian lifestyle. Last week, on the eve of publication, DiSclafani went to the real-life Camp Yonahlossee’s 90th reunion and knocked their spurs off, promptly selling out of books, according to Riverhead’s director of publicity Jynne Dilling Martin. The following night, a dozen former Yonahlossee campers sang DiSclafani the Yonahlossee camp theme song. Gallop ye fine horsies, gallop through the night! That’s how the song goes, right? —Mike Harvkey
According to PW’s starred review of Ladies' Night, which lands at #7 on our Hardcover Fiction list, author Mary Kay Andrews “is at the top of her game, delivering a smart, funny perfect-for-summer read with a hopeful heart.” Hopeful seems iffy, however, when we find out that leading lady Grace Stanton discovers that her husband and her assistant are having an affair. What to do? Well for starters, Grace parks hubbie’s beloved sports car in the pool. (Not surprisingly, Andrews wrote a guest blog post about revenge for USA Today’s Happy Every After blog.)
Seriously, Andrews has hit the ground running on her jam-packed media tour that kicked off June 3 with a launch party hosted by FoxTale Book Shoppe at the vintage home store of Kudzu and Company in Sandy Springs, Ga. Funds raised at the event were donated to the national breast cancer organization, Bright Pink. SMP reports that 368 copies of Ladies' Night sold at the event. Her tour includes just about every June date (mostly in the Southeast) and winds up back at the FoxTale site on July 26. When her St. Martin’s publicist expressed concern for the author’s myriad stops, Andrews replied, “Don’t worry; I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”—Dick Donahue
Finishing What He Started
This week’s Hardcover Nonfiction list is, for the second time this year, notable for its connection to the tragic death of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. When Kyle was murdered Feb. 2 on a shooting range by a vet he was attempting to help, he was working on the manuscript for American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms, which lands at #2 on the list, having sold over 19,500 copies (the first print run is 250,000+). Sharyn Rosenblum, senior director of media relations at William Morrow, said that only a week before his death, Kyle and co-author Bill Doyle turned in a first draft to Morrow executive editor Peter Hubbard. Kyle earned a following from his exploits as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, and his autobiography, American Sniper, was a bestseller in both its original 2012 hardcover release and in the mass-market version released just prior to his untimely death. PW had even named American Gun a top-10 pick in the Spring 2013 Announcements issue that ran on Jan. 28, expecting more big things from a man who had shown himself to be a thoughtful figure in the context of an increasingly fraught national conversation about guns. “In the aftermath [of his death],” Rosenblum said, “Kyle’s widow Taya and American Sniper co-author Jim DeFelice added a foreword, afterword, and epilogue and ensured that Chris’s voice was true throughout.”—Alex Crowley
Reviving a Revolution
Respected by academics, lauded by prize-granting committees, and—believe it or not—actually selling books, Joseph Ellis has had a damn good writing career. He’s won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer for his work, and he enjoys a full professorship at UMass Amherst. Did I mention he’s an historian? Of the American Revolution? You’d think there wouldn’t be anything left to say on the matter. But apparently there is, and as we put it in our starred review of his new book, Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence: “If we must have another work on this shop-worn subject, [Ellis] is the one to write it.”
Still, you’ve gotta have an angle. Or, more precisely, a sense of scope—the way historians usually justify another jab at such a dead horse is by going seriously micro or macro, resulting in books with titles like, The Hex Nut that Won WWII, or, alternately, WWII: The Entire Thing. Ellis, though, doesn’t rely on such perspectival trickery to make his subject seem new. Revolutionary Summer is reasonable in scope (covering just May through October of 1776), surprisingly brief (240 pages), and straight to the point—as he writes in the preface, his aim is to show that political and military narratives of the Revolution, often portrayed separately as “stand-alone accounts,” are actually “two sides of a single story… incomprehensible unless told together.” And that story is a good one: we wrote that “Ellis’s prose is characteristically seductive, his insights frequent, his sketches of people and events captivating, and his critical facility always alive.” The book debuts at #14 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list. Not bad for a dead horse.—Samuel R. Slaton
Longmire Rides Again
Craig Johnson’s A Serpent’s Tooth, the ninth installment in the Sheriff Walt Longmire series, debuts at #16 on the Hardcover Fiction list. A Serpent’s Tooth went on sale June 4 along with an official Longmire season two tie-in edition of Death Without Company, the second book in the series, and the Penguin paperback edition of last year’s As the Crow Flies. Season two of A&E TV’s Longmire began airing on May 27, to rave reviews and huge ratings.
Johnson kicked off his 45-city book tour on June 4 at Collected Works in Santa Fe, N. Mex. Much to the excitement of the audience and everyone involved, the cast of Longmire made a surprise appearance at the event—including stars Lou Diamond Phillips (Henry Standing Bear), Robert Taylor (Sheriff Walt Longmire), Adam Bartley (the Ferg), and Cassidy Freeman (Cady Longmire ). Thus far, Johnson’s events in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Dallas, San Diego, L.A., and Portland, Ore., have been SRO with record-breaking book sales.
Johnson and A Serpent’s Tooth have been experiencing wide coverage, including interviews with the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and the Omaha World-Herald.
Next week, Johnson continues his tour, moving eastward to Minneapolis, Chicago, Nashville, North Carolina, and Philadelphia. For the complete tour schedule visit craigallenjohnson.com and click the Tour of Duty tab.—Peter Cannon